There are lots of points to raise about THE BOYS NEXT DOOR. Well this is true about almost any film but thanks to 101 Films, we are able to return to this film and I am able to wax lyrical about it. The role of true events in cinema (this not a true story), the role of violence in film making (the violence is discussed in the commentary and more of that later) or the histological stamp of a film (its post punk but very much defined by it.) Penelope Spheeris feels like a step up and a step into, her growing cinematic journey. It also reveals the periods growing interest in cinematic serial killers.

Roy Alston (Maxwell Caulfield) and Bo Richards (Charlie Sheen) hate school and the high school frat shit. They also feel ostracised from their community. Bo receives $200 as a graduation gift from his grandparents and the boys decide that a trip to LA is in the offing. During the drive to LA however, Bo and Roy get caught up in a nightmare for others but not for them. They rob a gas station and beat the attendant (Joseph Michael Cala) with a crowbar. This scene, along with another is infamous.

The violence is unpleasant and intentionally framed to be so. Spheeris commentary handles it with a clear eye on the MPAA response to it, revealing that they are less offended by violence then by sexual relations. The next day, the boys go to a beach, just before which Roy admits he is angry and likes to hurt people. To enforce this he throws an empty beer bottle and it hits an elderly woman and drives with another on his car hood. This spiral of violence makes the pairs relationship and violence, be less like say that of BADLANDS (starring father to star Charlie, Martin Sheen). Their violence was pent up and targeted the bonds of civility. Here it is the abject failure of the whole culture that makes the boys angry. That and the psychological issues that maybe has left us all a little broken. This conversation is best listened to in Stephen Throwers interview. He is a major film commentator and cultural theorist. Which in whole, allows the discussion to be set in a framework of cinema and culture of the period. The violence of the period. The darkness that flooded out. It was all to unpack the truths which saw the nuclear family disintegrate.

Valuable to those interested or those uncertain of the real venom of the piece in its meditation. Well almost venom should we add. That is the issue in totality of why in the end the film falls. THE BOYS NEXT DOOR is a step ahead of the bleaker serial thrill kill films of the period, because it sets its sits on youth engagement but it lacks courage by opting for an easy out. The MPAA could be blamed for that. They trimmed some of the films and removed the harsh, bitter tones. They also seemed to have preferred a good bad relationship. Although Spheeris equally comments on the paring down of the content in regard to the violence. She hates the use of it as an aid to context. She felt restricted by it or caged actually. I would say the films lack of conviction in defining the irrational rationale of the acts, the boys rejection of their life and the spiral down at the final third, is metered softly and the sting is gone, due to this.

Audio commentary with director Penelope Spheeris and actor Maxwell Caulfield
Blind Rage: Interview with Stephen Thrower, author of Nightmare USA
Both Sides of the Law: Interview with actors Maxwell Caulfield and Christopher McDonald
Give Us Your Money: Interviews with street band performers Texacala Jones and Tequila Mockingbird
Caveman Day: Cinemaniacs interview with director Penelope Spheeris and actor Maxwell Caulfield
Tales from the End Zone: Interview with actor Kenneth Cortland
The Psychotronic Tourist – The Boys Next Door
Alternate Opening Title Sequence & Extended Scenes (Silent)

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